Sample Formal Outline: Informative Speech

Please note that the outline format in the sample that follows may be a bit out of whack.

The content, nevertheless, will model the kind of speech I'm looking for on this assignment.


B.J. Harmon

Formal outline:  Informative speech

SC 105:  MWF 11:00

Dr. Williams

Oct. 16, 1999



Ensuring Educational Opportunities for Children

with Special Needs:  An Overview of Efforts and Programs



Topic:                                     Special Education programs in the public school systems


General Purpose:                                To inform


Specific Purpose:   To inform my audience about Special Education programs for elementary school children in the public school systems


Thesis Statement:                            Our government and public school systems have taken a

                                                                number of measures to help ensure educational opportunities

                                                                for children with special needs.



I.  My son is 7 years old and in the 2nd grade at a local public elementary school.  Like a lot of kids he enjoys school and is always eager to tell me what he “learned in school” that day.  I am grateful that my son is able to attend public school.  He is able to attend due to federal regulations that guarantee him an education, regardless of his disability.

II.  My son is but one of an increasing number of children with special needs.  A recent article in Exceptional Children reports that “the number of children with disabilities who have been identified as qualifying for special education...has increased dramatically.”  According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, one out of every eight elementary school children have special educational needs.

III.  Our society has recognized that handicapped, disabled, or physically-challenged kids (whatever is politically correct) have the same right to an education as any other child.

IV.  This realization has prompted our government and public school systems to take a number of measures to help ensure educational opportunities for children with special needs.         [Thesis statement]

V.  My son’s progression through the public school system has taught me some things about a handicapped child’s needs in school, what the federal government’s response to those needs are, as well as what the public school systems are actually doing to fulfill those needs.  I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you.

VI.  You may wonder how this information is relevant to you, after all, you may never find yourself facing this situation with your own child.  But, you likely will interact with classmates and colleagues with special needs, and if you do have children someday, you’ll want to help them understand their peers with special needs.  In addition, you’ll want to understand and be able to explain why special programs exist.

Preview and transition from intro to body:  Before examining programs and the legislation upon which they are based, let’s first review what comprise some of the needs of a child with special needs.


I.  The needs of a handicapped child include those needs that are common to all children, as well as additional needs that the school and family must acknowledge and respond to.

        A.  According to Joanne Jones, a social worker with United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Houston, all disabled children should receive additional training or assistance with basic functional skills such as communication, self-help and independent living skills, and academics.

    1.  Mrs. Jones notes that communication skills should be addressed through speech and audio therapy programs.

                2.  Self-help and independent living skills may be gained through occupational and physical therapy as well as social and interpersonal skills development.

                3.  Academic skills should be taught through flexible and adaptive classes designed to fit the child’s individual progression.  The use of an IEP or Individual Education Plan is commonly used to develop the curriculum of the handicapped child.

                  [Visual aid:  Outline of son’s IEP, on transparency]

        B.    In conjunction with the special physical and academic needs, I can tell you from personal knowledge that handicapped children need additional support from their family and society.

                1.  Rejection from their peer groups can have an emotionally disturbing effects.

                                a.  The child may withdraw socially.

                                b.  The child may experience sudden dramatic mood swings.

                2.  Self esteem can suffer because the child is unable to perform the same tasks as the other students.

                3.  The family and friends can be a big help in these areas by being sensitive to and understanding about the child’s special needs.

Transition between points:  Now that we’ve reviewed some of the needs of a child with special needs, let’s look at how our federal government has considered those needs.

II.    The subject of public education for handicapped children has been debated by Congress for the past 30 years and has resulted in various legislative acts.

        A.    Edwin W. Martin, former director of the U.S. Bureau of Education for the Handicapped, recalls that the Education of the Handicapped Act, passed in 1966, was the first major step toward integration of handicapped children into the public school system.

                1.  The act provided grants to help local school districts start programs for handicapped children.

                2.  It created two agencies which helped to forward special education programs.                

                                a.  The Bureau of Education for the Handicapped.

                                b. The National Advisory Committee on Handicapped Children.

        B.  The next improvement for the education of the handicapped did not come until 1978 when the Education for All Handicapped Children Act became effective.

                1.  The act established the “zero-reject” policy, which author Mary Jane Rapport explains is to guarantee equal educational opportunities for all children.  

                2.  The act summarily ended discrimination of handicapped children from the public school system.

                3.  In addition, according to Mr. Martin, the act also helped to change society’s view of disabled  children by increasing awareness and understanding.

        C.    The most recent and probably most controversial legislation is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), passed in 1992.

                1.  IDEA mandates the provision of special education and related services to all

                children who have “limited strength, vitality, and alertness, due to chronic or acute

                health problems...that adversely affect educational performance.”

                2.  The “related services” aspect of the policy, such as constant care medical

                treatment, has proven financially difficult to implement.

                                a.  The U.S. Bureau of the Census indicates that the average cost per

                                student is approx. $5,300/yr.

                                b.  The New York Times estimates the average bill for a special education

                                child is $13,000+/yr.

Transition between points:  With the federal government pushing for special education and health care services as part of a free and appropriate public education, let’s now explore how the public school systems are implementing these regulations.

III.  To meet the needs of children with special needs, educators have begun to emphasize a comprehensive approach that includes the classroom, the home, and the community.

        A.  Most school systems have special education programs designed to address the

        needs of handicapped elementary school children.

        [visual aid:  Transparency of pamphlet from Tomball Independent School District]

                1.  The usual procedure for a student to enter the special education program is an                        eligibility test, followed by a recommendation and placement by a special                                                 committee that oversees admission, review, and dismissal.

                2.  The process may be initiated by a parent, a teacher, or an appropriate social     

                welfare agency.

                3.  Each disability has specific requirements for placement as defined by state and                         federal laws.

Internal transition:  Educators realize that schools cannot operate alone but require the cooperation and assistance of parents and the community.  As the journal Exceptional Children states, “The transformation and improvement of schools for our increasingly diverse students requires the appropriate anticipation of the needs of students, family members, and educators...and effective plans to address them.”

        B.    To address community concerns about education for handicapped children some school systems have developed Parent Advisory Committees.

                1.  These committees usually consist of handicapped adults, parents from each school in the district, as  well as the special education teachers for the system, the special education program coordinator, and school administrators.

                2.  Work in an advisory capacity helps to plan for and ensure appropriate educational opportunities, activities, and support for children with disabilities.

        C.  To increase community awareness of the needs of children with special needs (as well as their abilities) some school systems sponsor events such as “Special Olympics.”

Transition from body to conclusion:  With increased awareness and ongoing efforts, the integration and education of handicapped children has become a central issue.


I.  In the past 30 years our legislators have recognized that handicapped children have the same rights to an education as an ordinary child and also have special educational needs beyond those of an ordinary child.

II.  Our government officials not only have recognized these rights but have tried to ensure these rights to all children.

III.  The public school systems are enacting federal regulations by providing special education and related services to handicapped children.

IV.  At the same time, educators have emphasized that parental and community support are essential for success and they have promoted involvement and awareness.

V.  With all of the work that is being performed by individuals, schools, and the government, more kids with special needs may be able to greet their parents in the evening with “Hey!  Guess what I learned at school today!”


                Martin, Edwin W.  “The Golden Age of Special Education.”  The Exceptional Parent, 26, 62.

                Putnam, Joanne W; Spiegel, Amy N; Bruininks, Robert H.  “Future Directions in Education and Inclusion of Students with Disabilities:  A Delphi Investigation.” Exceptional Children, 61, 553.

                Rapport, Mary Jane K.  “Legal Guidelines for the Delivery of Special Health Care Services in Schools.”  Exceptional Children, 62, 537.

                “Improving Preschool Special Education.”  New York Times, Late Edition.  Aug. 7, 1996, A16.

                U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States:  1995.  115th edition.  Washington DC, 1995.

                Jones, Joanna.  Case social worker, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Houston.  Telephone interview.  1996, Sept. 27.